An Eclectic Collection

Shelf detail, DS

Library collection development can be a complex process. As a rule, unless yours is a legal deposit repository, some manner of selection has to take place. Every institution has constraints of space and budget which require limits to be set. A library chooses particular areas in which to collect and holds to those, in order to keep the collection germane to its mission. For the Phillips, a library with a long and tangled history, that mission has not remained constant, and so our collecting interests have shifted.

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David Pingree (1795-1863), Shipping Merchant


Ship Thomas Perkins of Salem in Canton River, 1840, Sunqua

Recently I completed processing the David Pingree (1795-1863) Papers.  The collection is central to the study of many important subjects in early American history, notably major developments in American commerce. The Pingree family businesses began early and coincided with the Golden Age of shipping in Salem.

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A Day in the Life of a Manuscript Processor at the Phillips Library

Orders from Elias Hasket Derby for Stephen Phillips, Jr., master of the ship Eliza for Bilboa, July 9,1794

The Phillips Library provides access for scholars and researchers to a remarkable collection of unique and rare materials.  Its patrons are curators and staff of the Peabody Essex Museum, scholars and researchers from around the world, local historians, and general readers.  The library collects printed materials and manuscripts related to the major collection areas of the museum, and it builds on traditional strengths developed over more than two centuries of collecting.

Many people are curious about what a manuscript processor or archivist in an art museum library does. Let’s start with what a manuscript is. Read more